Public Service Gazette requirements
A gazette is an official publication for the purpose of notifying the actions and decisions of the government. Notices published in government gazettes cover a range of aspects of government concern and regulation, and most are published because of a requirement of law.
The Public Service (PS) Gazette contains vacancy and employment decision notices that are required to be published under sections 25 and 40 of the Australian Public Service Commissioner's Directions 2022 (the Directions).
As well as Australian Public Service (APS) vacancies, the Australian Parliamentary Service and other Commonwealth agencies may also publish their vacancies in the PS Gazette.
The PS Gazette is published in electronic form on the APSjobs website.
Notification of vacancies
Section 25 of the Directions sets out the provisions for the notification in the PS Gazette of vacancies that might result in engagement or promotion.
Section 27 of the Directions provides the circumstances under which a non-ongoing employee can be engaged for a period of employment without notification of the vacancy in the PS Gazette.
Consistent with 10A(2) of the PS Act which outlines the principle of merit, all eligible members of the community should be given a reasonable opportunity to apply for an APS vacancy that could result in an engagement or promotion.
Restricting applications to eligible employees
The Directions provide limited circumstances where an Agency Head may decide to restrict applications. An Agency Head may:
- decide that, for cost or operational efficiency reasons, a vacancy should be filled by a person who is already an APS employee (in accordance with section 25(4) of the Directions). However, this does not apply to vacancies at the Senior Executive Service (SES) levels, APS Level 1 and training classifications); or
- in accordance with section 31 and 33 of the Directions, identify a position as only open to
- Aboriginal persons and/or Torres Strait Islander persons; or
- persons with disability or a particular type of disability.
Where an Agency Head decides a vacancy is only available to existing APS employees, at the time of the notification the employees eligible to apply are ongoing and non-ongoing APS and Parliamentary Services employees.
An Agency Head may later decide to open the vacancy to the broader community. If this occurs, the vacancy must be notified again in the PS Gazette as open to all eligible members of the community.
Closing date for vacancies
A vacancy published in the PS Gazette must have a closing date of at least 7 calendar days after the notification, unless an Agency Head is satisfied there are special circumstances and approves a shorter period. When considering a shorter period, the obligation to uphold merit continues, which includes that eligible members of the community are given a reasonable opportunity to apply for APS vacancies.
Notification to the Commissioner
The Directions provides that the Australian Public Service Commissioner (the Commissioner) may, by notice in writing, require an Agency Head to obtain the approval of the Commissioner before notifying a specified vacancy, or a specified class of vacancies, in the PS Gazette. Where such a notice is made, Agency Heads will be notified.
Multiple agency notification
The Directions also requires that an agency participating in a multiple agency selection process must ensure as far as practicable that a specified vacancy is brought to the notice of the community in a way that gives eligible members of the community a reasonable opportunity to apply for it.
When including a multiple agency notification in the PS Gazette, each agency can notify their own individual vacancy or, alternatively, they can rely on a single notice that lists all agencies involved. Each agency might also promote the joint opportunity on their individual websites. The APSjobs website allows an agency to notify a vacancy as 'various agencies'. Participating agencies can be listed within the notice.
An agency can supplement a PS Gazette notice with external advertising in order to attract more candidates or to target candidates with particular skills or formal qualifications. For example, this may be on the agency's website, on other websites or in other media. External advertising must comply with the Department of Finance’s Recruitment Advertising Policy.
When broadening advertising beyond the PS Gazette, agencies are encouraged to undertake all advertising concurrently to avoid confusion. There may be instances where this is not suitable or possible. Where external advertising is not undertaken concurrently with the PS Gazette notification:
- section 25(7) of the Directions requires that external advertising must take place within 4 weeks before or after the PS Gazette notification; and
- the same closing date for submission of applications as the day specified in the Gazette notification. This is regardless of when the advertisement or notice was published, to ensure merit is met.
An agency cannot use any other form of advertising after this period without placing a new notification in the PS Gazette.
Notification of employment decisions
Section 40 of the Directions sets out the employment decisions which must be notified in the PS Gazette. They include the:
- promotion of an ongoing employee
- promotion of an ongoing employee following a Promotion Review Committee (PRC) decision
- engagement of an ongoing Parliamentary Service employee as an ongoing APS employee at a higher classification than the person's current classification as a Parliamentary Service employee
- engagement, promotion of a person made in accordance with an Independent Selection Advisory Committee recommendation
- termination of the employment of an ongoing employee on the grounds of a breach of the APS Code of Conduct mentioned in 29(3)(g) of the Public Service Act 1999.
The employment decision must be notified in the PS Gazette within 3 months after the decision is made, unless the Commissioner agrees to a different arrangement prior to the conclusion of the 3 month period.
If the employment decision is made on the basis that the person is required to satisfy an eligibility requirement (such as a security or character clearance), the 3 month period for gazettal commences at the time the eligibility requirement is met.
The employee’s name must be included in the PS Gazette notification except where:
- an Agency Head decides that a person's name should not be included because of the person’s work-related or personal circumstances; or
- where employment is terminated under section 29(3) of the PS Act on the grounds of breach of the APS Code of Conduct, the Agency Head decides that including the person’s name is not necessary to ensure public confidence in the integrity of the APS.
If the notification relates to a promotion that is subject to review and the Merit Protection Commissioner requests the Agency Head to provide the employee’s name, the Agency Head must advise the Merit Protection Commissioner of the name of the employee as soon as practical after the request is received.
In accordance with subsection 40(6) of the Directions, where a notification does not include the name, the Agency Head must advise the Commissioner of the employee’s name as soon as practicable after the notification is published. For further information, email email@example.com.
Failure to notify an employment decision
Section 42B of the Directions sets out provisions where an agency fails to meet their obligation to gazette a promotion decision within 3 months. In this circumstance the agency will be required to:
- notify the decision in the Gazette; and
- if the notification relates to a promotion that may be subject to review by a PRC, notify all applicants of their promotional rights.
To ensure the promoted employee is not disadvantaged, if the promotion decision is not subject to PRC review, the decision is taken to take effect on the day that had been agreed between the parties as the day the promotion was to take effect. This means that the promotion may be backdated to the date the promoted employee commenced in the role.
If the promotion decision is subject to PRC review, the decision is taken to take effect:
where a promotion review is not submitted, or the promotion decision is not varied by a PRC, on the day that had been agreed between the parties as the day that the promotion was to take effect (this means that the promotion may be backdated to the date the promoted employee commenced in the role after the employment decision was made).
If a PRC varies the promotion decision the earlier of the following:
- 4 weeks after the day the Agency Head is notified of the PRC’s decision or a date that has been agreed by the relevant parties and is after the Agency Head is notified of the PRC’s decision.
Cancellation of decision
Where an employment decision is cancelled after it has appeared in the PS Gazette in accordance with section 41 of the Directions, the cancellation decision must then be notified in the PS Gazette within 3 months after the cancellation decision is made.
HR practitioners seeking more information on Public Service Gazette requirements can contact the Employment Policy team via firstname.lastname@example.org or call the advice line on (02) 6202 3857.